Tag: Zach Grable

Centennial Shows Their Eagle Pride at the Annual Pep Rally

Words: Josh Kim

Photos: Zach Grable, Melissa Notti & Noorie Kazmi

On September 27, Centennial capped off spirit week with an extended pep rally. At the end of the day, students gathered to watch musical performances, dances, tug-of-war, drill teams, and a powder puff game. Powder puff, an annual football game with junior and senior girls, was held during the pep rally this year rather than after school. Just as in the years before, the pep rally helped build excitement towards the homecoming game and dance.

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Centennial Hits the Beach

Words: Sarah Paz

Photos: Melissa Notti & Zach Grable

On Tuesday, September 24, Centennial students celebrated Tropical Tuesday by wearing their favorite
Hawaiian shirts and lei-printed items. Tomorrow is USA day, where students will showcase their
national pride.

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Centennial Cheers on Law Enforcement Torch Run

Words: Caleb McClatchey

Photos: Zach Grable

Centennial students and staff took a break from their usual routine Thursday morning to support the Law Enforcement Torch Run, a public awareness and fundraising group which supports the Special Olympics.

As students clapped and cheered, law enforcement, along with some Special Olympics athletes, ran down Centennial Lane carrying the Flame of Hope, the Special Olympics torch.

In preparation for the Special Olympics Maryland Summer Games, the torch has been passed between Maryland counties. The games are set to begin this Friday at Towson University.

Each year, 97,000 law enforcement officers participate in the Law Enforcement Torch Run, carrying the Flame of Hope into local, state, national, and world competitions.

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The History of Centennial’s Senior Traditions

Words: Caleb McClatchey

Photo: Zach Grable

On a late May night nearly 40 years ago, Centennial’s class of 1979 gathered in the auditorium. One by one they walked across the stage, received their diploma, and walked off into the next chapter of their lives. They left behind a school just like them– young and ambitious. They were both blank slates waiting to be filled with countless experiences and memories.

Now, 39 graduating classes and thousands of alumni later, Centennial is no longer the blank slate it used to be. Centennial has its own identity, its own culture, and its own traditions. For generations of seniors, these traditions have helped shape their time at Centennial. And while traditions like homecomings and Hebron games were enjoyed all four years, some of the most memorable and meaningful ones only came once. These senior-only traditions, some of which date all the way back to the Class of ‘79, have provided students with the chance to celebrate, reminisce, and enjoy their final year at Centennial.

The Senior Crab Feast, typically the first senior activity of every school year, took place for the first time on October 6, 1978– making it the first official senior activity in Centennial’s history. Although the menu has varied slightly, the event always kicks off senior year with a casual night of crabs and music with friends. Ever since it began, the overarching goal of the crab feast has remained the same: to help the senior class begin the year with a sense of unity.

According to Lisa Schoenbrodt, a member of the Class of 1979 Senior Board, the board originally decided to organize the crab feast because nearby schools, including those which Centennial’s newly-created student body came from, already hosted similar activities.

Following the crab feast, there is a lull in senior activities as winter sets in. By February, however, with every college application turned in and midterm completed, seniors begin to focus on their much anticipated graduation and the warm summer to follow. The Senior Luau, ironically held in chilly February, allows seniors to start getting in that summer mindset early with a Hawaiian themed night. Dressed in Hawaiian shirts and leis, seniors enjoy a laid-back, tropical atmosphere brought to life with music, dancing, and food.

Unlike the crab feast, the Luau didn’t begin with Centennial’s first senior class and hasn’t been held continuously since its beginning. In fact, it began with the Class of 1982, who, following a successful crab feast, wanted to host another “casual” event before graduation.

“Jimmy Buffett was popular, the Beach Boys would play at the Washington Monument each Fourth of July, so, we figured, why not squeeze one more ‘summer’ event into the year,” recalled Karen Donegan, president of the 1982 Senior Board.

Six years later, in 1988, the senior board decided to replace the Luau with a fancier class night. The Luau returned the next year before again disappearing in 1993.

While the Luau and Crab Feast serve as more relaxed events for seniors, prom is a different story. Although Centennial’s prom is open to both juniors and seniors, senior year prom, typically seen as a sort of “last ride” for students with graduation fast approaching, takes on added significance.

When Centennial opened as a new school for the 1977-78 school year, there was no senior class, so a junior-only prom was held. Centennial’s first junior-senior prom came a year later, on May 12, 1979, at the Kittamaquandi Room by Lake Kittamaquandi in Columbia. Since then, many more locations, including the Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore Grand, M&T Bank Stadium, and Martin’s West, have played host to Centennial’s prom.

Outside of the venue, the differences between the prom of today and the prom of the past are limited. Look through the the prom pages of Centennial’s forty-one yearbooks and you’ll start to find that the forty-one different stories, each with their own characters, their own settings, are really just the same story told by forty-one different classes of Centennial students. It’s a story of corsages, of boutonnieres, of dresses, of tuxedos, of limos, of hours of hectic preparation and weeks of nervous anticipation, all coming together, along with countless Centennial couples and friends, for one night full of grandeur and splendor.

And when prom ends, whether it be at 1:00am as it did in 1979, or 11:00pm  as it did in 2019, seniors still have one more night to look forward to spending together before their graduation. Class night, as the name suggests, gives the whole senior class one last chance to celebrate how far they’ve come and reminisce over the years they’ve spent together.

Centennial’s first class night, held just two days before the graduation of Centennial’s first class, took place at La Fontaine Bleue, an event venue in Glen Burnie. The event, slightly more formal than current class nights, featured dancing to live music, a dinner buffet, and reading of seniors’ wills.

Seniors in the class of 1979 gather for the first
ever crab feast. Photo contributed by: Eyrie

Up until the mid 2000s, class nights were mainly held at local hotels or other event venues, such as Martin’s West. In recent years, however, more classes have chosen to take the party from the dancefloor to the deck, with cruises becoming popular alternatives to traditional dances.

The theme that seems to emerge from every senior event, and in particular class night, is unity. As graduation draws near, students begin to realize how ingrained their classmates have been in their lives over the past four, seven, sometimes twelve years. And while yearbooks and pictures can ensure the memories they made and the friendships they forged are never forgotten, the time they spent together, the time which once seemed limitless, is now ever so finite.

Most of Centennial’s first class, composed entirely of students uprooted from their original high schools after their sophomore year, came from Mount Hebron, with a smaller portion coming from other feeder schools. Unsurprisingly, becoming a unified class wasn’t so easy.

“We had to really rally our class to come to some events, like dances,” remembered Schoenbrodt. “It took some time for our class to become a cohesive unit.”

Yet even for the Class of 1979, as the 1978-79 edition of Eyrie wrote, “What particularly characterized Class Night was the harmony which surfaced among such a diverse senior class.”

Outside of the longstanding senior traditions at Centennial, many other senior events and activities have come and gone since 1978. In the 1970s and 80s, some of Centennial’s senior classes took trips to Great Adventure amusement park in New Jersey. The Class of 1993 held a Senior Fiesta featuring a variety of festively dressed seniors. The Class of 1994 hosted a Toga Dance complete with prizes for the most creative, most colorful, and ugliest togas. These short-lived traditions, and the many others like them, are testaments to the remarkable staying power of the Crab Feast, Senior Luau, Prom, and Class Night.

What stands out about Centennial’s senior traditions is the extraordinary timelessness of them all. In the 42 years since Centennial opened, much has changed at the school and in the world in general. Yet now, in a new century, a new millennium, Centennial’s seniors flock to the crab feast, prom, and class night just as Centennial’s very first class did so many years ago. Maybe it’s because of our unchanging love of crabs. Maybe it’s because of our timeless desire for a night of luxury and limos. Or maybe, just maybe, there is something deeper at play. Maybe it’s because as the rest of our lives creep up on us, slowly at first, then faster and faster, we want, or rather, we need, chances to enjoy the present. We need those chances before they, like the present, slip away into the past.

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This article is featured in the 2019 Senior Issue.  To see the full issue, Click Here!

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

The Matchim Advantage

Words: Celina Wong

Photos: Zach Grable

What was your life like eight years ago? Many of us were in elementary or middle school, when our biggest concern was who we were going to sit with at lunch. For teachers and parents, many of you were in the process of building your careers and families.

Eight years ago, David Matchim walked through the doors of Centennial High School and vowed to create a prestigious band program. Now, Matchim has been named Music & Arts 2018 Music Educator of the Year and has created one of the best wind ensembles in the entire country. He attributes the foundation of his success to the book, The Happiness Advantage, written by Shawn Achor. The book describes seven basic principles that readers can use to create a more positive outlook on their lives. Its purpose is to correct the idea that happiness leads to success, not that success leads to happiness.

Matchim stumbled upon this book during a rough time in his life when he needed guidance.

“I had a tough year where I was feeling particularly negative, and I was questioning whether or not I still wanted to be a music director,” Matchim stated. “I was searching for ways to change my outlook, or perception, on what I was experiencing. I ended up doing an internet search, and that’s when I came across The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.”

The Happiness Advantage is based on the philosophy of positive psychology. It proves that people function and perform better when they are in a good place emotionally.

“It’s kind of like a car. When it’s well-tuned, it operates better,” Matchim illustrated. “For me, I needed to see that there was actual research done that shows that physiologically we do better, if we think positively. That’s what really sold me [on the book].”

The book has changed Matchim’s perspective on his life.

“What I like is that the book isn’t about being positive all the time. It recognizes that we’re [all] human,” Matchim explained. “The book really talks about living life with rose-tinted glasses, rather than with rose-colored glasses. It’s not about being naive and thinking that everything is going to be perfect all the time, but seeing the good things that are happening that we may have been blind to otherwise.”

Javeria Diaz-Ortiz, a four-year band student, struggled in her sophomore year and voiced to Matchim that she was considering quitting band.

“[Matchim] said, ‘Everything is fine. You can do whatever you need to make yourself comfortable, but I just want you to know that I want you in this band,’” Diaz-Ortiz recalled. “I will always remember that interaction because I feel like I can depend on Mr. Matchim. It really changed my opinion and perspective on him and I know I can go to him if I have any problems.”

Diaz-Ortiz is not the only one who has experienced the pressure that comes with a competitive band program. As a result, Matchim has found an approach that helps his students relieve some of their stress.

“I have recently had a number of teachers come up to me and say, ‘What is the magic trick?’ Some people who don’t know me think I run the program kind of like a dictator and that I’m really hard on people all the time,” Matchim said. “But, I don’t think that’s the case.”

For Matchim, the key to helping students achieve their goals is to be involved in the process.

“I can have high expectations, but I think the difference is that some people put the expectations on others, and don’t try help them achieve it,” he shared. “That’s the biggest thing. People have to feel that you’re on their side. If I set an expectation, I try to make sure I’m an active participant in getting people there.”

Similar to Diaz-Ortiz, Matchim faced a few obstacles where he too felt like he was not doing the best he could to succeed. He related this back to one of Achor’s principles, Falling Up.” It discusses the idea that failure and suffering teaches us how to be happier and people are ultimately more successful because of it.

“I would say, probably four years into my career here at Centennial, I wasn’t meeting my own expectations about where I wanted the program to be. I got very discouraged because I thought I wasn’t doing a good enough job, as I was constantly looking ahead and I wasn’t looking at where we came from,” Matchim noted. “I think that for me, reading the book, and the whole “Falling Up” principle, made me realize that failure is okay, and it is a part of learning. That is something that a lot of people are really afraid of. After reading the book, I understood a little bit more that even though we are not meeting the expectation yet, we’re making progress there.”

One idea that Achor emphasizes in The Happiness Advantage is the idea of a support system. He thinks that “the most successful people invest in their friends, peers, and family members to propel themselves forward.”

Matchim applied a similar approach with his ensembles.

“The joy is that [the students] have relationships with each other, and not just me. Sometimes, they are honest with each other. I’ve heard students tell someone they need to work harder. I have also seen people say, ‘You’re doing a great job; keep doing what you’re doing. You sound amazing,’” Matchim added. “I think the community we have in the band program is why we are largely successful because they want to play well for each other. It’s not about me. It is more important to me that they feel like they have each other.”

Matchim takes the main idea of the book that happiness creates success and applies it to how he teaches his students and creates a safe environment within the band room.

“It’s really about community. I would like to see it happen in other places in the school too because we’re better with each other,” Matchim said. “I think there are a lot of insecurities to try to keep up, and at the end of the day, going back to the book, I think it is because everyone is feeling like they are going to be happier if they are more successful. But, every time they are successful, they move the goal post further away. [They] keep doing that and [they] aren’t ever happy. [They] have to be happy in [their] own shoes.”

Before Matchim established a sense of community within the band program, he used competition to fuel his students, as that was the broad stereotype of Centennial that was painted before he began to work there.

“I figured that I was going to use [competition] and they’re all going to try to be better than each other all the time, and that’s why the band is going to be good. We were good, but we weren’t great. My numbers in the band program were staying about the same,” Matchim explained. “Then, I realized that something that was missing, that what they needed in band was the sense of community. That’s when I shifted gears and a lot of that had to do with the book. I tried to get them to be supportive of each other, and not just better than the person next to them.”

Matchim has also seen the effects of this book in himself and others around him.

“If you want to do something that you are passionate about, you’re going to be successful in it. I think with the Shawn Achor book, the reason I am experiencing success is because I love what I do. Now that I am 35, I have a lot of people who are in pivotal places in their careers and I’m noticing that my friends that are nailing it —regardless of what field they are in— love [their jobs],” Matchim stated. “There are outliers. There are a lot of people who are successful and unhappy. But, the bulk of people who pick something that they love are doing that.”

Along with the book, the people of the community have helped Matchim win the award of Music Educator of the Year.

“What feels good about it is that these are community-nominated awards. There are a thousand plus people nominated for this, who are supported by people from their community, parents, graduates, administrators, other teachers in the county. Other people are recognizing what we’re doing,” Matchim explained. “What is cool is that the source of the award is that people are recognizing and appreciating the work that is happening. And I think that’s huge. If you love teaching, the way that I do, and if you love music, then you want to know that your community values you and values what you’re bringing to the table. That’s what feels really great about it.”

In an exclusive interview with The Wingspan, Achor expressed how he is moved by the work of Matchim, as he paved the path for thousands of students who have sat in his band classroom.

“I wanted to help the helpers by validating that their behavior and mindset really matter,” Achor said. “In a time when anxiety and depression are at historic highs in our schools, when you see champions like David Matchim, you realize that hope exists for positive education.”

As Matchim traces the foundation of his happiness and achievements back to the novel, Achor feels like the book has reached its purpose.

“If David was the only person who read The Happiness Advantage, I’d feel like the book was a success,” Achor said. “He took the words and made them come to life for the students and teachers in his life.”

With the title of 2018 Music & Arts Music Educator of the Year, Matchim has received recognition from those in other states who admire him and his band program.

“I think that’s cool for our students to know that there are other people, music teachers, and music kids who know about our program,” Matchim explained. “That’s more of an opportunity to feel thankful, and then people end up putting in more support. It’s just a nice cycle to be in. I hope it’s always this way. It may not always be this way, we’ll probably have highs and lows, but I think right now, this is a pretty cool place to be.”

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This article is featured in the 2019 Senior Issue.  To see the full issue, Click Here!

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

The Centennial Jazz Band on Rewind

Words: Thomas Hitt

Photos: Zach Grable

On a brisk Monday evening, May 29, The Early Bird Big Band, Centennial’s jazz band, presented their first ever 90-minute jazz concert featuring a professional sound crew, providing the best listening experience possible.

To open the night, the jazz band played “Magic Flea.” The second song of the night was “A Time for Love,” featuring a trombone solo by Jack Keane.

After the trombone feature, the band played “Caravan,” with a drum, bass and alto sax solo.

The jazz band played The Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back,” followed by the theme from the hit TV show Family Guy.

A fun song including saxophone, drum and trombone solos were featured in the next song, “The Chicken.”

Next, the jazz band performed Count Basie’s “Flight of the Foo Birds,” which included a tenor sax solo by Milynn Lekhavanija, an alto sax solo by Colin Eng and a trumpet solo by Joshua Oberly.

For the jazz band’s eighth song of the night, they played Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The saxes opened the song and Keane entered on trombone with the melody and chorus.

After “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the jazz band went backstage for a short break. However, they shortly returned and played “Sesame Street” with a solo by drummer Jackson Rowles and trumpeter Colin Homassel.

The tenth song was “Backlash,” a jazz combo featuring the rhythm section, Homassel on trumpet, Eng on alto sax, and Keane on trombone.

Saxophonist Eng performed a solo in “Georgia on my Mind” after the jazz combo, while the rest of the band accompanied him. The song was delicate and precise with a warm sound from the saxophone solo.

Following “Georgia on my Mind” was “Afro Blue,” and the next song performed was Stevie Wonder’s ”Higher Ground.”

The jazz band then performed “Sing, Sing, Sing” a jazz tune composed by Benny Goodman. The song featured solos from both Rowles and Oberly. After the jazz band finished the song, the audience rose to their feet with clapping and cheers.

For the final song of the night, the jazz band performed Justin Bieber’s “Despacito.” The band again received a standing ovation from the audience.

“It was a lot of work, and in the end it paid off,” said Keane. Since the jazz band is not a huge program, Keane said “[he takes] pride in the fact that [he’s] helping to build the program up.”

Senior and baritone sax jazz musician, Seth Crumley, said “I think that having a concert focused on jazz was a great way to showcase the jazz band. A lot of people attended and really seemed to enjoy it.”

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G/T Research Program Holds Celebration of Excellence

Words: Javiera Diaz-Ortiz

Photos: Zach Grable

As the school year comes to an end, the G/T Research program held its Celebration of Excellence on April 29. Teachers Toni Ireland and Julia Bakhru gathered students, parents, mentors, and some special guests in the cafeteria to celebrate the students’ achievements in the Intern/Mentor and Independent Research classes.

Projects were displayed all over the cafeteria where parents and mentors could look at students’ final products and ask questions about their research. Some students presented their projects on display boards and science posters, while others created products such as brochures and slideshow presentations.

During the event, students were given the opportunity to hand their mentors certificates of appreciation. Not all mentors could attend, but those who did were honored with a brief speech by their student interns. Students conveyed their appreciation for the time, effort, and kindness that they were offered by their mentors.

The night ended on a cheerful note as guests enjoyed Chick-fil-A, as well as sides and desserts. Students, teachers, and mentors had the chance to reflect on their hard work and success throughout the past year at the Celebration of Excellence.

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For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.